On my Soapbox, Breakin’ it Down.

Allie, making it a little easier for us to do the local, fresh thing.

After a shamefully long stretch I finally made it to the grocery store yesterday. Now my creative culinary juices are flowing, and I’m ready to get back in the kitchen. Browsing around my produce section got me thinking about seasonality, why its so important, and how tricky it can be for a lot of us during the winter months.

“Sustainability,” “farm-to-table,” “eat local,” …these are buzz words we have been hearing a lot lately. This type of eating was a way of life in our great-grandparents’ time. Certain foods could grow only during certain times of the year, so that was the only time they were enjoyed. They were always delicious because they were at their peak of freshness. But thanks to modern technologies and transportation, we can now get our hands on tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, any kind of fruit or veg, at any time of year our hearts desire. Sounds great, right? Sort of… its nice but…

In order to get those yummies, they need to be grown in another part of the world, where the seasons are different. Sometimes in another continent. This creates a need for ships, airplanes, trains, and/or trucks to transport the produce. All of this spews a lot of carcinogens (cancer causers) and pollutants into our atmosphere. Plus, it can take a while for the fruits and veggies to get to us. Days, weeks even. So, by the time it gets onto your tastebuds, its really not so fresh anymore. And, if we care about our local farms and producers, and want them to succeed and thrive and add to the economic growth of our country, it makes sense to buy from them. It puts more money in their pockets instead of paying the middle man and all that gas and trucks and driving.

To some it may seem like a drag to mostly only eat what’s in season, but it can really be exciting to expand your horizons. Here is a short list of foods that happen to be in season in my neck of the woods (Northeastern US):

beets
broccoli
broccoli rabe
brussels sprouts
butternut squash
cauliflower
celery root
chard
chestnuts
cranberries
fennel
leeks
kale
mushrooms
parsnips
pears
pomegranates
potatoes
pumpkins
sunchokes (aka jerusalem artichokes)
rutabegas
turnips

That’s not so limiting! There’s a lot of delicious things you can do with all that. One great tip that I heard somewhere and always seems to ring true: “if it grows together, it goes together,” so definitely try pull multiple items from this list and combine them in exciting and delicious ways. That’s what I’ll be doing this week, so stay tuned for posts on what I’m cooking up and how it all turns out.

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